Employee Handbook: Why every business needs one!
An employee handbook can create the foundation of employee performance and help protect your business against potential lawsuits, or it can be a document that confuses employees and makes it virtually impossible to maintain your legal defences. It all depends on how well it's written and used.
It is worth ensuring you are proactive and not reactive when dealing with your Employee handbook. Trying to update, maintain or even creating your handbook on the fly can produce a document that is, in fact, inconsistent with the way your business is conducted.
A well-constructed employee handbook covers legal and compliance issues as well as policies and rules on pay periods, overtime, discipline, ethics, safety, etc.
Employee handbooks help straighten out any misinformation; replacing them with solid facts.
Some quick tips to consider when working on your Employee Handbook:
Don't let it collect dust.
- Regularly update your handbook to incorporate changes in law and your company policies and make sure everyone knows which version is in force. It is wise, however, to not include those aspects of working life that might change quite regularly.
- Ensure consistency with other company documents.
Keep it simple.
- Your handbook needs to be written in plain English and ensure poor wording will not result in incorrect contractual arrangements being inadvertently referred to.
- Basic information covered should include policies and rules on sexual harassment, equal employment opportunity, meal/break periods, overtime, pay periods, discipline, leave, absenteeism, grievances, ethics, email/phone use, dress code, safety and substance abuse.
- Be wary of providing too many specifics on each policy. Not only will it make your handbook grow too large and unlikely to be read, but you can box yourself in by trying to detail the consequences of every situation.
Have employees sign off.
- It is best to document employees' agreement to the handbook by having them sign and return an acknowledgment form.
11 most common Employee handbook mistakes
- Using handbooks which contain provisions unrelated to your company.
- Combining policies and procedures, which could cause confusion for employees.
- Including reference to probation which could imply anyone who stays with the company beyond that time is then a permanent employee.
- Being too specific in descriptions and lists, especially those involving discipline.
- Not being consistent with other company documents.
- Not adding a disclaimer, or not having enough disclaimers in the right places.
- Sabotaging disclaimers by what you do or say, especially by reassuring employees their jobs are secure.
- Not taking into consideration each state's laws. You may need more than one version of the handbook or a more generic handbook if you have employees in several states.
- Failing to review regularly for compliance and/or best practice and then updating the handbook accordingly.
- Being unrealistic about what your employees or supervisors will buy into.
- Including policies you can't or won't enforce.
Ultimately, many myths and mistakes are circulating due to outdated information and misinformation.
Implementing a well-written, up-to-date employee handbook can help your business stick to the facts.
An employee handbook is one document that can create many legal issues for you if not completed or maintained correctly.
So, it’s important you are proactive and not reactive when dealing with employee handbooks.
If you think your employee handbook needs updating or maybe you haven’t quite got around to organising one, then look no further than Akyra’s Employee Handbook.
Thanks to Akyra, a comprehensive tailored Employee Handbook is only a click away.
What's included in the Akyra Employee Handbook?
- vision, mission & values;
- the employee information;
- business environment;
- policies covering code of conduct, workplace behaviours, privacy, grievance, dispute & resolution, workplace health & safety, fit for duty, leave, performance improvement, social media & communications; and
- employee declaration.
Akyra’ Employee Handbook will be available to purchase from Akyra’s shop earlier next month.
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